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Archive for the ‘Fermented Foods and Beverages’ Category

Two weeks ago I started a batch of lacto-fermented pickles.  I carefully followed the recipe enclosed in the fermenting jar with air lock I bought recently.  With great anticipation I’ve awaited the day they would be ready to sample.  The child in me loves good pickle!   I had great hopes my pickles would turn out delectable, delicious and crisp.  Last night enough time had finally passed, and the moment of truth had arrived.  I popped open the jar and pulled out a pickle.  The center gave way to the pressure of the fork.  It was a mushy mess.  My pickles were a bomb…not to be confused with “the bomb”.   This morning I dumped them into my kitchen compost pot.

I wish I had taken a picture of the “pickles” in the fermenting jar, but I did not.  Initially the liquid in the jar was clear.  The end result liquid was very cloudy even before I transferred them into jars for storage.  (That’s my pretty and really yummy sauerkraut in the fermenting jar to the left.)

pickle yuck 2

A mushy mess…so often bloggers share their successes.  It seems fair to share some of the failures, too.  These, my friends, were a failure.

pickle yuck

I’m sure I will try to lacto-ferment pickles again, but I will search out a different recipe.  Once was enough for this one.  In the meantime, I’ll eat sauerkraut.

Until next time…

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.                (2 Corinthians 5:18)

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This simple dish turned out really good so I thought I would share.   It is something I just “threw” together, and I wrote it down after we ate, because both my husband and I would like to have it for supper again some time.  I served it with home-canned lima beans and a bottle of cherry water kefir.

Skillet Chicken 4

Skillet Spicy Chicken Over Brown Rice Pasta

Olive Oil (Enough to keep chicken from sticking as it browns)
1 pound lean ground chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper diced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dry parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon  turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I use unrefined Celtic.)

2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon stevia powder
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I use raw with mother.)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15 oz. can) diced tomatoes with juice

grated parmesan cheese

cooked gluten-free pasta (We used brown rice shells.)

In a heavy skillet brown ground chicken, onions, and peppers in a small amount of olive oil.  While browning the meat mixture, add parsley, cayenne, turmeric, black pepper and salt.

When meat mixture is cooked thoroughly and onion and peppers are tender, add remaining ingredients except for pasta and cheese and simmer on low heat for about half an hour.

Serve over cooked pasta shells and top with grated parmesan cheese.

If you try this recipe I would love to hear what how it went over at your house.

Until next time…

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  (2 Timothy 2:22)

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My kombucha brewing was a success.  The brewing time finally ended, and there was no colorful, fuzzy mold growing on it.  I achieved making healthy kombucha tea.   This morning I started a two new batches, one with the new scoby and one with the original.  I am not sure the old one will work again, but it was worth the tea and sugar to find out.  I am also trying to make a new scoby with starter kombucha and freshly brewed black tea and sugar in a quart jar…no scoby.   I saw where that method works and had to try. 

Here’s a picture of my kombucha prior to removing the scoby and straining the tea.

After starting the new batches, I ended up with about three quarts of kombucha tea to enjoy.  Enjoy it, I will.

Until next time…

Rejoice evermore. 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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Have you ever been invaded by fruit flies?  If you are anything like me it’s not unheard of to leave a banana lying around until it turns solid brown or let an apple or two over-ripen.  I save all vegetable waste produced in our kitchen in a two gallon galvanized pot, and when the pot is full we transfer it to our compost pile.   It is the perfect breeding grounds for fruit flies.  I figure if you’ve brought fresh produce into your kitchen you know what pesky things these tiny flies can be.  A Facebook post I saw yesterday prompted me to share a fantastic solution for keeping fruit flies out of the kitchen…for it proved I’m not alone.

Early this spring I found a really cool yellow jacket/wasp trap while I was meandering through my favorite nursery looking for treasures to cure my spring fever.  The trap is a heavy, glass bottle with a concave bottom forming a well.   The bottom is so designed to hold insect attracting liquid.

There is a hole cut out in the center of the bottom.

The design makes it possible for nectar seeking insects to fly or crawl into the bottle but impossible for them to crawl out after they enter the liquid filled concave well.  I bought one with yellow jackets in mind.

Not long after bringing the trap home, my kitchen was invaded by fruit flies.  For quite some time I’ve used small dishes of apple cider vinegar to attract and drown them.  The vinegar attracts the flies, but the dishes are not escape proof so the fly population dwindles slowly.  The little dishes sitting around in random places is less than ideal.  I thought about the wasp trap hanging on my porch and brought it inside.  I filled the well with apple cider vinegar and hung it over the island in my kitchen.  Within two days all the fruit flies were floating in the bottom of the jar.  No more fruit flies.  No more little dishes sitting around with dead fruit flies floating around in the bottom.   My wasp trap is now a fruit fly trap and has an always place hanging over the kitchen island.

Clean up is simple.  Carefully remove the bottle from its hanging place and run hot water into it through the top.  The captive fruit flies…dead or alive…are washed down the drain, and the bottle is ready for fresh apple cider vinegar and to be rehung.

I googled hanging glass wasp trap and found several sources and styles.  If you are interested in doing away with your fruit flies, this method works like a charm and obtaining your own hanging glass wasp trap is just a Google away.

Until next time…

If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice, forgive him, lest there be two bad men.   ~ Augustine

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It’s time to clean out the winter garden and get our spring garden started.  We’ve got several heads of cabbage growing, and there’s only so much coleslaw and steamed cabbage we can eat.  There’s still plenty kimchi left from my last batch, so I’ve decided to broaden my horizons and try my hand at making sauerkraut.  I’ve done my research and feel confident this will be a breeze. The older I get the more I appreciate fermented food;  I’m looking forward to this.  I figure I shouldn’t keep all this fun to myself…welcome to sauerkraut 101.

After a trek to the garden to cut some fresh cabbage and pulling off the outer leaves for the chickens to enjoy, I got started.  Preparation was simple.   I got all my materials together.

What I used is:

a two gallon glass jar (Anchor Hocking…made in the USA…that’s not a requirement, but it is a fact I appreciate.)  A large crock or food grade plastic container can also be used for larger quantities.

a sharp paring knife

sea salt

large cutting board

a saucer or plate that will fit inside the container you use

a heavy “weight” to place on the plate (more on that later)

Several years back I developed a taste for sauerkraut…but it had to be good, crisp sauerkraut…not the mushy, limp textured, canned variety.  Yuck!  If I’ve done my research properly, fresh, crisp sauerkraut will be a reality any time I want it from here on out.

Here is what I did:

After washing my cabbage I shredded it.  I cut mine in fairly rustic, not too thin slices.

When I finished shedding the cabbage I started putting it in the glass jar.  After every couple of inches of cabbage I sprinkled a teaspoon of sea salt across the top and continued alternating cabbage and salt until it was all in the jar.  I ended with sea salt.

Once that step was complete I compressed the cabbage as much as possible with my hands.  Next I placed a saucer on top of the cabbage and continued to compress.

Finally I placed a teapot filled with water on top of the saucer to help keep the cabbage weighted down and compressed and force the liquid out of the cabbage.  The cabbage must be beneath the liquid to ferment properly.  (You can use just about anything heavy that can be properly washed as a weight on top of the saucer as long as it will fit in the jar.  I read where someone used a washed, smooth river rock as the weight.  Another idea along the same concept as my teapot is a jar filled with water.  The teapot just looks so much nicer through the clear jar I’m using as a fermenting container.  Pretty must count for something. :))

No liquid is added to the mixture of cabbage and sea salt at this point.  The sea salt will draw out the liquid in the cabbage producing the brine the cabbage will ferment in.  Every couple of hours or so the cabbage needs to be pressed down again to help cover it in brine.  In the morning if the brine is not completely covering the cabbage I will add pure water with additional sea salt dissolved in it until there is enough liquid to completely cover the cabbage. (If this is necessary the ratio of water to salt is one cup of water to one teaspoon of sea salt.)  Three hours after I finished the preparation work and adding the cabbage to the jar, the sea salt had drawn enough liquid from the cabbage to cover it half way.

I’ll store the jar on a counter top while it is fermenting and check it each day to make sure the cabbage is covered and all is well.  I understand a harmless “scum” can form on the top while the cabbage is fermenting.  I’m hoping this doesn’t happen to mine…just the word “scum” conjures up a lack of appetite.  If it happens I’ll skim the scum.  :)  The fermenting process should become apparent in just a few days.  The longer it ferments, the stronger the sauerkraut.

In the past I’ve known ladies who made sauerkraut and kept it in a cool cellar while it fermented.  I don’t have a cool cellar…or any cellar for that matter.  The cellar method takes longer for the cabbage to ferment.  As far as I know there is no other significant difference.

I’ll try to discipline myself to do a follow-up post after the sauerkraut is ready to eat or along the way if there is anything of interest to share.  I’ve still neglected to do a “Water Kefir – Part 2″ even though I’ve enjoyed many liters of water kefir since beginning to make it.

Until next time…

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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With each new year comes a new beginning.  Resolutions are made…many forgotten by the first week’s end.  I’ve not promised myself to lose more weight…though I hope to…nor have I promised to spend less and save more…though I need to.   I have not promised myself I will make more frequent blog posts…life too easily gets in the way of computer time….nor will I resolve to keep my house neater and be more organized.  Some causes are lost battles from the start.  My New Year’s resolution is simple in words but not necessarily so easy to put into action.  I’ve resolved to love more.  Love is a serious action word…love without action is not given and is not received.  It is simply a word.  Null and void.  In the words of Jesus, Matthew chapter 5 says:

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Loving more will not be easy, but if I don’t give up in defeat, it will be life changing for me and anyone I come in contact with…friend or foe, because people I encounter will see Jesus in me. 

Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year full of love…

Water Kefir note…I’m loving the stuff.  Mine is wonderfully carbinated.  My grains aren’t multiplying like I wish they would…but I’m enjoying a fresh batch every 48 to 72 hours and have some in reserve now.  I can’t honestly say what benefits I am getting from it other than satisfaction and pleasure.  Those two alone are worth the minimal preparation time it takes to keep my kefir going. 

Until next time…

If you don’t feel like you’re getting the love you should get, then maybe you should ask yourself if you’re giving the love you should give.  ~ unknown ~

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Water kefir is a naturally carbonated, very slightly alcoholic beverage brewed using water kefir grains and sugar.  Water kefir grains, a culture of healthy bacteria and yeast, also known as For quite a while I’ve wanted to try water kefir.  I don’t tolerate milk products well,  and water kefir sounded like a great solution to filling my need for probiotics.  After researching what water kefir grains are and how to go about obtaining them (thank you Affectioknit for the source recommendation…it worked out beautifully for me.)   I finally started brewing water kefir at home. 
Until my son mentioned water kefir as an alternative to yogurt I had never heard of  it.  Here is a nutshell overview of what these amazing little crystals are.   Water kefir grains are also know as Japanese water crystals, tibi, tibicos and sugar grains, produce a beverage rich in probiotic qualities.  They are composed of Lactobacillus alactosus, Lactobacillus casei casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus pseudoplantarum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Streptococcus cremeris, Candida valida, Saccharomyces florentinus, Kloeckera apiculata, Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus, Streptococcus lactis, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and Candida lambica.  (This list may not be all inclusive, and  kefir grain content may vary from grain to grain.)  Kefir grains  produce a healthy,  probiotic-rich beverage, yielding a wide variety of healthy benefits.
Just a few of the benefits attributed to drinking water kefir are  relief from indigestion, flatulence, and ulcers.  It helps achieve  and maintain a healthy body weight.  Kefir has been reported to relieve symptoms of Chrone’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.   It is known to alleviate gall bladder and kidney disorders, regulate blood pressure and relieve asthma.   There are many other benefits attributed to the consumption of water kefir beverage,  but one of the greatest remaining benefits is the reasonable cost.  After the initial cash outlay for crystals, the beverage can be brewed by chaining (or reusing the culture) over and over.  Other probiotic sources require continued monetary output.
The brewing process is amazingly simple and requires minimal supplies.  The most difficult part of brewing water kefir for me was waiting for the fermentation process to be complete so I could test my product.
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Here’s how brewing water kefir beverage is done…
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Re-hydrating dehydrated water kefir grains…
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I gathered all the supplies I needed:
water kefir grains
spring water
a wide mouth jar (1/2 gallon or larger)
1/4 cup sugar (preferably NOT white granulated sugar although that is what I used for my first batch)
1/2 lemon
measuring cup
a coffee filter or other cover for jar
rubber band
a non-metallic long handled spoon
a non-metallic strainer
a non-metallic funnel
a seal-able bottle for storing the finished beverage
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(optional tea bag…for a cup of tea while you work)
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It is very important to use only non-metallic utensils when working with kefir and recommended that you reserve those utensils for water kefir only.   Tap water, even that poured through filters such as Pur or Brita is not recommended.   The minerals have been filtered out.  Spring water with natural mineral content or well water is most recommended for the production of water kefir. 
I used dehydrated grains, because that was what was available to me.  If you are fortunate enough to have a friend who brews water kefir you may be able to get hydrated crystals from them.  As the grains  culture they generally multiply,  producing enough grains to share with others who would like to reap the healthy benefits of this wonderful beverage.   (I purchased my grains from cultures for health and was pleased with their service and my purchase.)
When using dehydrated grains they must be re-hydrated.  This is done by adding the crystals to 4 cups of sweetened. room temperature water.  I found it necessary to heat a cup or two  of the water in order to dissolve the sugar.  I poured the sugar water into the brewing container and added the remainder of the water and allowed it to cool.  Don’t rush, because putting the grains into water that is too warm may damage them. 
After the water cooled I sprinkled the grains into it and gave it a few gentle stirs to mix them in.  (There is a second method of pouring the grains into a muslin pouch and adding the pouch to the water…if using a pouch make certain it is large enough to accommodate the multiplication of the grains.  I have a second batch using this method.) 
I added half a lemon and covered the jar  with a coffee filter and secured it with a rubber band.
Now the waiting begins.  Sit your container on the counter.  Allow the mixture to sit 3 to 4 days.  Do not allow it to sit more than 5 days.
It is common for dehydrated water kefir grains to appear inactive for the first couple weeks.  This is not an indication they are not working only that it sometimes takes re-hydrated dehydrated grains to become fully active.
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Part 2 to come shortly…
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Until next time…
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.  Psalm 105:4

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